Ever since I was a kid, I've been a fan of "turtle" - that irresistible trio of pecans, caramel, and chocolate. Don't forget the salt! It's crunchy, it's salty, it's sweet, a perfect balance of flavor. There had to be more ways to use this delicious concoction in most than just ice cream sundaes. Behold - the tart! Free of gluten, eggs, and soy, this treat is easy to make and is ready to eat right out of the fridge. While I made this for the holidays, you can have this delicious dessert any time of year! A cold tart on a hot summer's day sounds just right.
If you have pure baking cocoa powder, than use that for your crust. If not, hot cocoa powder is a perfect substitute! I was going to use pure baking cocoa, but realized that I had JUST bought hot cocoa powder and didn't need to waste money on more cocoa powder. The hot cocoa I had was salted caramel and it turned out great.
Toasting the pecans is CRUCIAL! It softens them so when you go to cut through the tart, they are easy to slice through and don't break once the knife touches them. Be sure to keep a close eye on the pecans when you're toasting them, I may or may not have burnt the first batch because I got distracted.
Let's talk ganache - here's a tip from a mistake I made. I didn't let it cool enough before I salted it! While it didn't affect the taste at all, it gave me little holes in the ganache from the salt melting through. So word to the wise - let the ganache cool down and thicken up a bit before topping and salting your tart.
One more tip - the tart pan! I spent days trying to find a perfect sized tart pan, but they were either out of stock or wouldn't be able to deliver until after Christmas. I guess everyone wants to make tarts over the holidays! I discovered that layered cake pans are actually almost identical to tart pans and WAY easier to get ahold of. So, if you can't find a tart pan, a layered cake pan will work perfectly. Now, let's make this treat!
¾ cup (96g) coconut flour
¼ cup hot cocoa powder or regular cocoa powder (we used salted chocolate hot cocoa powder)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup maple syrup
½ cup solid coconut oil
⅓ cup creamy almond butter (or any creamy nut butter you'd like)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup pecans toasted and chopped
3 oz. dark chocolate chopped finely (make sure it's dairy-free if you want it 100% vegan)
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup toasted pecans
Flaky sea salt to garnish (or regular sea salt if you can't get flaky)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a tart pan (or any rectangle pan, I used a 10"x4") with coconut oil (I recommend lining the pan with parchment paper as well if your pan doesn't have a removable bottom).
Combine coconut flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Add the maple syrup and coconut oil and stir until fully combined and a smooth dough forms, pressing out any clumps of coconut oil.
Press the dough into the prepared pan. Press indentations into the dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing up and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the dough looks dry and baked through. Let cool completely.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup toasted pecans on the evenly on the cooled crust.
Mix the almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt in a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, or until the coconut oil is melted. Whisk until smooth.
Let the mixture cool slightly, and then pour over the pecans in the crust. Shake to even it out and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or until the caramel filling is firm.
Place the chopped dark chocolate in a heat-proof bowl or large measuring cup. Place the coconut milk in a separate bowl or cup and heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, until steaming hot. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate, making sure all the chocolate is submerged and let it sit for a minute. Whisk until smooth, and then spread over the caramel layer.
Sprinkle the chocolate with the toasted pecans and flaky sea salt, if desired.
Keep stored in the refrigerator.